Color Light Output: What Every Projector Buyers Should Pay Attention To

It is not easy to find the ideal projector for every needs. The finding process might takes time because you will need to do some research before deciding which type you should buy. But if your needs mostly involve the use of PowerPoint, PDFs, pictures or any application related to presentations, brightness should be your main priority. In fact, color brightness is often the primary aspect to consider beside size. The indication of brightness in a projector used to has two different variables: white light output and color light output.

Color Light Output or Color Brightness is a new standard for projector buyers. It is the data they need in order to compare projectors. Color Brightness has long been the spesification used for projector comparisons. But if the old spesification measured only White Light Output, now Color Brightness includes both White Light Output and Color Light Output. In fact, the vast majority of projectors today is a project color which makes measuring White Light Output and White Brightness alone is insufficient.

The most recent of Color Brightness standard was introduced in May 2012 by the Society of Information Display (SID), a global professional organization focused on the development of the display industry. The published Color Brightness standard applies to all displays including projectors for business, education or home.

The Color Brightness standard was developed after the SID conducted comprehensive research and performance evaluations. The result concluded that a color performance standard was scientifically valid and relevant for the display industry. Color Light Output measurement methodologies for displays, including projectors are later specified in a document entitled The International Display Measurement Standard (IDMS).

The published Color Brightness standard succeedly shows a major difference among projectors. For the first time Color Brightness standard gives end users a scientific data to compare projector’s brightness. Leading manufacturers have followed the standard in their product spesification in order to give insightful knowledge to projector buyers. Since then, Color Brightness in projectors include two measurements: White Brightness (White Light Output) and Color Brightness (Color Light Output).

Color Brightness quantifies primary colors Red, Green and Blue. Why only the color of light like Red, Green and Blue? Because computers and media players define colors as relative levels of Red, Green and Blue. The color yellow for example, is stored inside the computer as bright red, bright green and no blue.

Projector’s light output or Color Brightness is spesified in ANSI Lumens unit. Lumens is a standardized procedure for testing projectors under American National Standard Institute (ANSI) which involves averaging together several measurements taken at different position. For marketing purposes, the luminous flux of projectors that have been tested according to the procedure use the “ANSI lumens” label in order to distinguish them. ANSI lumens are generally more accurate than the other measurement techniques used in the projector industry. ANSI lumens allows projectors to be easily compare on the basis of its brightness spesifications.

As for the ANSI lumens measuring method, the projector must first set up to display an imagine in a room at a temperature of 25 degrees Celcius. The brightness and contrast of the projector will then measured on a full white field at nine spesific locations around the screen and averaged. The average is then multiplied by the screen area to measure the brightness of the projector in ANSI lumens. Manufacturers such as Epson often claim they have brighter color than their “leading competitor” based by the amount of ANSI lumens their projectors contain.

However, the Color Brightness’s quality also depends on what technology the projector use. For example, projectors with 3LCD technology simply add red, green and blue together to create white. So in 3LCD projector, if the lumens is measured for red, green and blue separately and then add them up, the total will be the same as the industry-wide ANSI lumen measurement for white.

DLP projectors in contrast, create colors by projector one color at a time in sequence. The vast majority of DLP projectors use rotating color wheen, shining light through color panels on the wheel. Almost all boost their brightness for white light by adding one or more additional panels beyond red, green, and blue. DLP projector relatively delivers better Color Brightness than in its brightest mode. When the ANSI lumens measurement of DLP and LCD projetors are both the same, the result they deliver will equally bright. But for color images like PowerPoint slides or photos, LCD projectors will be brighter than the DLP.

Most manufacturers list Color Brightness in lumens or ANSI lumens. If a projector unit has its brightness listed in just lumens, the measurement taken to obtain that value do not follow any standardised routine. As mentioned before, ANSI lumens is the internationally standard value for every light units including the projectors. The industry standard is set to 1.000 or more ANSI lumens projectors. But for the rooms with ambient light that cannot be eliminated, a projector with at least 800 ANSI lumens may become the right choice.

When grouped by Ansi Lumens, projector’s Color Brightness are as follows:

  • Less than 1,000 lumens - These kind of projectors are the lowest light-output available today. Projectors with less 1.000 ANSI lumens also are less expensive. If you are on a tight budget, there are a number of products in this category that may be perfect for your needs. Yet better keep in mind that the low light output means that the presentations will only good in dark or dimly lit room so that the image on the screen is not washed out by ambient room light.
  • 1,000 to 2,000 lumens – Projectors with the ANSI lumens range is a step up in performance and price from the previous version. There are many manufacturers offering SVGA and XGA products in this class. These projectors are suitable for normal business conference room and classroom use. Presentations would be better to do in the room with reduced lighting for best screen viewing, although a totally dark or dimly lit room is usually not necessary.
  • 2,000 to 3,000 lumens – The projectors in this range represent the high-performance range of the portable and semi-portable projectors. Products in this class are suitable for either large conference rooms and small classrooms. The projectors also offer more flexibility in terms of ambient room light because the image is bright enough that a reasonable amount of room light can be tolerated without washing out the image. The projectors also offer more flexibility in terms of audience size since they can illuminate a larger screen without much loss of image quality.
  • 3,000 lumens and up - Ranging from 3,000 up to 12,000 ANSI lumens or more, prices of these projectors also cover a wide range depending on other performance characteristics.

The projectors set up a good standar for large venue applications, including board rooms, conference rooms, training rooms, auditoriums, concerts and so forth.

(Date: 14 June 2013; Frida)

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